Ever find yourself jittery with excitement, yet tangled in nerves, on the cusp of sharing your food photography magic with a potential client? This episode is your roadmap to crafting that irresistible perfect pitch that truly reflects your unique vision and fervor, ensuring your dream clients can’t help but say yes.
Dive deep with us as we unpack the secrets to a captivating pitch, from weaving the narratives behind each snapshot to sharing the essence of your creative odyssey. With tips and strategies galore, we’re here to guide you in articulating the depth and approach of your work, emphasizing the power of a succinct perfect pitch that distills your unique essence.
At the heart of our conversation is the art of practice and authenticity, making your pitch not just memorable but profoundly engaging. It’s about bridging the seen with the felt, creating a resonance that’s hard to ignore.
So, why wait? Start honing your elevator pitch today. Reflect on your photography’s core, what drives you, and how you envision your work being received. Practice makes perfect, and in this case, practice could very well be the key to unlocking doors to new opportunities. Remember, your pitch is more than just words; it’s your ticket to a world of possibilities. Ready to impress and captivate from the get-go? Let’s dive in.
My name is Mica (pronounced me-kuh) McCook, and I’m a food photographer who creates timeless theatrical art marinated in lavish colors and deep, simmering shadows. Every shot is a grand, meticulously composed culinary performance.
I ardently believe that food, like a captivating play, should inspire and evoke feelings. Each culinary creation is a flavorful story that stirs the heart.
My photographs transform these gastronomic delights into a visual feast, inviting you to join our dinner table.
You can find me in Austin with my husband, Aaron, and our two dogs, Moxy and Charlie. When not creating or photographing food, I delve into my Texan roots or escape into the enchanting world of Harry Potter.
So come on in, take a seat, and enjoy the show.
Mica: [00:00:00] Welcome. To the 41st episode of The Savory Shot. Can you believe it's already our 41st episode? Y'all, that's wild to me. I don't know what to say, I guess it's true when they say that time truly flies when you're having fun and doing what you love. Y'all know who I be. I'm your host, who loves you most, Mica McCook.
I am a food photographer from the heart of Texas, aka Austin! Whether this is your first time joining us, or your 41st time, welcome to what I call the amazing Hot Mess Express. Before I go any further, y'all know I got to show my love and gratitude to you, the listeners. I want to give a [00:01:00] huge thank you and a big cozy virtual hug to all of y'all.
Your support, your feedback, and enthusiasm have been the cornerstone of the Savory Shot. It's your curiosity and drive that keep this show alive and kicking. So thank you. Gracias. Danke. Merci. Oh, oh, oh, oh. I learned two new ways of saying thank you. Toda raba, which is Hebrew. Asante, which is Swahili.
So, toda raba and asante. Speaking of thanks, I'd also like to give a big shout out to Christina Peters. Christina, thank you so much for being on the show. Y'all, if you haven't listened to that episode, stop right now and go listen to it. [00:02:00] But let's talk about today's episode.
Have you ever found yourself getting ready for a first creative call with a potential new client? Or maybe you're getting ready for a portfolio review, or how about you have a meeting with an art producer that you have been emailing for months and months and months. And they finally said, okay, hey let's do a little Zoom meet. Have you ever found yourself in any of those situations and felt a mix of excitement and nerves? I know I have. I've been there. I'm still doing that. It's a feeling many of us know all too well. The challenge of conveying not just the quality of your work, but also your unique vision and approach to potential clients.
It's daunting. It really is. Walking [00:03:00] them through your photos. Telling unique stories behind each photo, trying to articulate not just the technical progress behind each shot, but the passion, the vision, and the creative journey that led to those moments being captured, and keeping the client engaged and present.
Ah! It's exhausting! Trying to bridge the gap between what's seen and what's felt. Sure, it's exhilarating, nerve wracking, for sure. But, really, it's exhausting, for some, maybe not all. The challenge of how to communicate the depth of your work and the uniqueness of your approach to those who might not see the world through your lens.
Y'all, it's a challenge, and it takes years of practice. So that's what today's episode will be about. We're going to unpack this topic and provide you with tips and strategies on how to pitch your [00:04:00] work to clients successfully. If you're new to the game, there will come a place and a time when you will have to talk about your work.
You'll talk about your work in portfolio reviews, discovery calls, and networking events. You need to get comfortable talking about your photography and presenting it in the best light possible.
But. Before we get into that, grab some coffee or some tea or a cocktail. It's five o'clock somewhere. A notepad and a pen. Get ready to jot some notes down and let's start the show.
Mica: imagine you're stepping into an elevator and lo and behold, standing next to you is an art producer who works for the client of your dreams. You've got just a few floors to make an impression. What do you say? This is where your elevator pitch comes in. I mean, this is literally the definition of elevator pitch, the time it takes to go in between floors. But it's also called your unique selling proposition.
It's that golden nugget of information that captures the crux of your work, your style, and what makes you stand out as a food [00:06:00] photographer. Now think of your elevator pitch as your mission statement condensed into a single potent sentence. Now this is just not any sentence. It's the one that you want to stick in people's minds.
The one you want them to remember when they're looking for a food photographer who brings something special to the table. Now confession y'all, working on my mission statement was difficult as fuck. I can't count the number of crumpled up pieces of paper I threw in the trash writing that statement, but I'm glad I did it because this sentence helped me find the heart of my work in its purest form and to really think about the brands that I want to work with.
So how does one craft an elevator pitch? Well, first things first, start by asking yourself, what is at the heart of my photography? [00:07:00] What excites me? What do I want people to feel when looking at my work? What I did was I set a timer for three minutes and I just wrote and wrote and wrote and again, I thought about what is at the heart of my photography.
What excites me? What do I want people to feel when looking at my work? And when the timer went off, I grabbed another piece of paper, set the timer and did it again. And again, and again, and again, because you have to go deep. You have to go beyond the surface. So what is at the heart of your photography?
What does excite you? What do you want people to feel when looking at your work? Maybe you love seeing people share meals, so you include Lots of hands in your work, or maybe you love summer, so you incorporate a lot of natural golden light in your work. Or perhaps you thrive [00:08:00] on bringing out the vibrant colors and textures of food in a way that makes viewers feel like they can almost taste it.
So you do a lot of close ups of fruit and close ups of like crackers and your work is very sharp and it has lots of sharp texture. Whatever it is, boil it down to a sentence. I'm going to give you an example. This isn't my example. What my mission statement is, but this is just an example. I specialize in capturing the vibrant dynamic stories of chefs and exploring the dishes they make.
See how that sentence not only describes what this photographer does, but also hints at how they do it differently. That's your elevator pitch. Now, here comes the part that might feel a bit like homework, but trust me, it's worth it. Practice. Practice, practice, [00:09:00] practice.
Y'all, when someone asks you what your date of birth is, or they ask you what your phone number is, or how about when we used to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day before school? Your elevator pitch should be like that. It should be so ingrained in your brain that it flows out effortlessly, confidently, and authentically whenever you need it.
Why is this so important? Because in this industry, you need to be so sure of yourself and what you bring to the table. You need to know what you want in order to get what you want. I'm going to say that again for the people in the back not paying attention on their cell phones. You need to know what you want in order to get what you want.
And opportunities come from the most unexpected places. You could be at a networking event, [00:10:00] in line for coffee, or yes, in an actual elevator. And find yourself face to face with someone who could be a game changer for your business. In those 15 seconds or less, what will you say? Your elevator pitch is not just a sentence, it's your key to opening doors.
With that being said, while it is essential to have this pitch polished and ready to go, it's equally important to deliver it in a way that feels natural and genuine. Like when someone asks you your date of birth, like when someone asks you your email or your phone number. So how do you do this? Read your pitch out loud and pay close attention to how you say your pitch.
Look for pauses, look for cadence, or the rhythmic pattern of how you [00:11:00] talk. Change any wording that doesn't feel natural. Your pitch needs to sound so spontaneous that it feels like you're thinking on the spot, as natural as breathing. It needs to roll off the tongue, it needs to be conversational, and it needs to strike a chord with your listener and leave them wanting to know more.
And remember y'all, this pitch will evolve as you and your work grow and change. So revisit it regularly. Tweak it and make sure it always reflects the very best of what you have to offer. So what's your elevator pitch? If you had just those few fleeting moments to describe your work to someone who could change the trajectory of your career, what would you say?
Think about it, craft it, refine it, and [00:12:00] then wear it like a badge of honor. Because in this world, y'all, this fast paced world, sometimes all you get is 15 seconds. Shit, if you're lucky. In most situations, you have more like 8 seconds. So make them count.
Let's talk about the power of words. Specifically, adjectives. Those descriptive gems can transform your pitch from standard to spectacular. So, first things first, pick three big, bold keywords that are the pillars of your photographic style, the backbone of your visual storytelling.
Got them? Great. Now, for each keyword, we're going to dive into the thesaurus of life and find a [00:13:00] collection of adjectives that are synonymous with your keywords. I like to think of this exercise as a family tree. Your three big keywords are the big branches and the adjectives are the smaller branches on each big branch.
For instance, if one of your keywords is happy, you could use words like jubilant, celebratory, joyful. Or, how about colorful? Let's say colorful is one of your keywords. You could use words like striking, retro, radiant, splashy. Stop me when I lie, y'all. But we food photographers tend to lean on the same old words like vibrant and vivid and delicious.
I'm guilty. Okay. I'm guilty. Guilty as charged. But seriously, those words are tossed around so much that they've lost their [00:14:00] impact. They are the neighborhood hoe. Everyone's had a ride. They are the equivalent of saying nice or good. Sure, they're positive, but really they're vague and tired and uninspiring.
We need to go deeper. So where do you find these magical words? Well, one of the best resources is food writing itself. Newspapers, food reviews, essays, cookbooks, books centered around food are treasure troves of descriptive language. Take, for example, one of my favorite books, like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.
If you have not read it, you should go read it. If you have not seen the movie, you should go watch the movie. But I'm going to read a line from the book. It was very pleasant to savor its aroma, for smells have the power to evoke the past, bringing back sounds and [00:15:00] even other smells that have no match in the present.
Mmm. One of my favorite food reviewers is Mimi Sheraton. Rest in peace, Mimi. I am going to read a sentence she wrote about describing frozen chocolate. A treat, even in winter, frozen chocolate takes on special meaning in summer when tiny, crackling, cold bits of thin, crisp, bittersweet chocolate are allowed to melt slowly on the tongue, cooling the mouth while gradually releasing that rich and miraculous essence, and finally an incomparable surge of energy, Y'all. Uh, are you freaking kidding me?
Mimi doesn't just say that it's good, or tasty, or chocolaty. She painted a detailed picture that transported you to a moment [00:16:00] just like that. Now why does this all matter? Because in your, your elevator pitch, whether it's written or spoken, these adjectives are your allies. They transform your descriptions from mere statements into experiences.
They don't just tell your prospective client what you do. They immerse them in how you do it, how you see the world, and how you translate the texture, the taste and spirit of food into art.
Let's put this into practice. Think about your photography again. If one of your keywords is earthy, look for adjectives that capture the warmth, the groundedness, the rustic nature of your images. Perhaps verdant for the lush greens in your shots, or [00:17:00] woody for the deep, rich browns, or pebbled for the texture you like to capture.
Maybe you like to have really sharp images. By selecting these adjectives with intention, you are inviting your clients into a sensory journey. You're showing them that your work is about capturing feelings and stories and experiences. Your client should think, Ooh, our brand uses adjectives one, two, and three.
I want this photographer for our next shoot. Your client should go, Oh, that's interesting. Tell me more. So y'all take the time to curate your list of adjectives. Then when you're crafting your elevator pitch or you're describing your work, you can weave these adjectives into your narrative. Let them be the colors with which you paint the canvas of your elevator pitch.
Remember, in the end, your [00:18:00] goal is to make your client feel something. You want them to hear your pitch and not just understand what you do, but feel a deep, irresistible pull towards your work.
Mica: Now imagine you're back in that same elevator with that dream client, and you've just delivered your killer one sentence elevator pitch. Then the art producer goes, Wow, that sounds really interesting. Do you prefer using multiple strobes? And do you don't have an answer. Welp. There goes that conversation. But let's rewind and script a different ending. One where you're not just prepared, but you are excited to jump into the heart of your process and how you approach projects.
If the client asks follow up [00:19:00] questions, then boo, this is your moment to shine. This is where you get to share not just what you create, but how you bring your creations to life. It's like you're opening up the curtain and you're letting them see the wizard at work, so to speak. Y'all, these behind the scenes stories are what I weave into conversations with potential clients.
Like I talk about challenges I ran into during a shoot and how we solved it, or how a test shoot came together. You want to give the client proof of how you approach problems, how you lead your team, and whether or not you can create under pressure. Clients want to know what it's like to work with you.
Clients are trying to envision a picture of themselves working on a shoot with you. It's your job to paint that picture for them. And as you deliver more pitches, you'll start to identify the questions that clients frequently [00:20:00] ask. They might ask about your work with food and prop stylist, how you select them for a project, whether you prefer studio or location shoots, or how many strobes do you use?
I don't know if I've ever been asked that, but you know, anything can happen. Think of each of these questions as an opportunity to further showcase your expertise and your preferences.
At the end of the day, ultimately, what clients really want to know is not just whether you can successfully complete a project. I mean, that's a given. That's why they contacted you. They know that your work is good. They want to feel confident that they'll enjoy working with you.
It's about compatibility. Will they like working with you? Y'all, I can't tell you how many clients have hired me because of what they see on my Instagram stories. They see how silly and goofy and funny I am and they go, man, she [00:21:00] looks like a good time. I definitely want to work with her and they hire me that way.
I've also heard of photographers who got hired, it was such a terrible experience, they just did not flow personality wise, and they were never hired again. That's scary. So think about that, think about your process. How do you work? Give the client a visual of what it's like to do a shoot with you, because it's these details.
These stories that will keep the conversation going. That's the goal. Keep the conversation going. Turn a simple pitch into the beginning of an exciting new partnership. You are in the business of relationship building. Get good at that.
Mica: Alrighty y'all, it's about time I wrap this puppy up. I know y'all have got things to do, places to go, so I will leave you with this. Practice doesn't just make perfect, it makes permanent. So practice your pitch daily. Whether you're rehearsing your pitch in the shower, to your dog, to the stranger on the bus, to the bill collector, or to a friend, make it second nature.
Don't hesitate to reach out to fellow photographers or even a mentor for a rehearsal session. The goal here is to build confidence in your ability to articulate your style and your process. After all, if you're not confident in your magic, how can you expect your clients to be? You've got this.
And by this, I mean an [00:23:00] incredible talent, backed by an equally remarkable ability to share it with the world. You're so much more awesome than you give yourself credit for. Before we sign off, a little announcement from my end. I'm starting a Patreon. It's going to be a cozy corner of the internet where I'll share behind the scenes videos of my shoots, editing tips, and more. I'm still figuring out the deets, but stay tuned as I get everything up and running. I don't have a launch date. I am really just in the very, very beginning, but I will keep y'all updated when it's ready to go.
Keep creating, y'all. Keep sharing. Most importantly, keep being your awesome, badass self. Thanks for tuning in, sharing your time, and being a part of this journey. Keep doing the work, be boss, and remember, I'm rooting for [00:24:00] ya. Until next time, y'all. Bye!